Curt Stenz
The primary copy on this 6-by-9-ft. sign is cutout aluminum composite material on 2-in. standoffs. Secondary panels are also ACM. Background and framing are rough hemlock lumber stained with exterior acrylic stain.
Lettering and panel are aluminum composite material, painted with lettering enamels. The 6-by-13-ft. background is rough hemlock lumber with split cedar shakes on the roof, painted with acrylic house paint.
Inside the studio...
...out in the shop
Hand-lettered truck door
“This client had an old truck he wanted to sell at an auto show,” says Curt. “He gave me free rein, so I had some fun with it. The lettering was done with thinned lettering enamels, baby powder and a rag.”
Cutout HDU board letters on hand-carved HDU panel with a custom bracket; finished with acrylic house paint and 23k gold leaf
“Janice designed this logo about 20 years ago,” says Curt. “It’s used on their vehicles, printed materials and everything else. This 8-by-8-ft. sign has been redone and slightly changed three times. In this version the client wanted to utilize a brand of metal roofing shakes as well as vinyl roll roofing material at the bottom. The lettering is vinyl; the main name is 3M yellow reflective film.”
All vinyl lettering
Hand lettering on a 3-by-5-ft. ACM panel bonded to an aluminum frame, installed on metal pole with custom fabricated bracket. The logo was designed for print material and used on their sign. The client asked that an urn similar to the one by their entry be used in the design, so Curt photographed it and posterized it in Photoshop.
This all vinyl project was Curt’s first time creating prismatic lettering and was done with 3M white and pearl gray film.
Sandblasted 2-in. HDU board panel with hand-carved tooth. All lettering is Florentine 22K gold leaf film. Crown molding is HDU board, and the sign hangs on a custom bracket.
“This is actually a 20-ft.-long shipping container,” says Curt. “The client asked for an idea so I suggested he build the false front and awning. I made all the signs, cut the Swiss-style trim, window boxes and shutters. The small signs were made to look like antique rusted porcelain enamel.”
Hand lettered 4-by-24-ft. ACM sign

Designer at work: Curt Stenz

By signcraft

Posted on Monday, July 2nd, 2018

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1970 found Curt Stenz lettering his first signs in his parents’ basement and doing posters at high school. From there it was a one-year stint at the local university as an art major then to a technical college where he learned offset lithography. He went on to work at an advertising agency, doing paste-ups, technical illustrations and airbrushing photos—all the while doing signs on the side.

“The marketing literature utilized many cutaway photos that were sent to Chicago for retouching,” he says. “I got to see them when they came back. I brought my small Thayer and Chandler airbrush in and taught myself to retouch. Removing saw marks, scratches, moving wires around, making things look shiny—you never knew what the engineers would want. When I started using Photoshop all the tools, masks and layers just seemed so natural.”

When an economic downturn ended most of the creative work, Curt left to work at a local sign company. It turned out to be a wise move.

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